Intuit apologizes, offers free Turbo Tax upgrades

Intuit changed its tax return software this year, requiring Turbo Tax deluxe customers to pay to access certain forms. After the  Turbo Tax backlash, Intuit is now trying to make good.

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters/File
A Turbo Tax software software filing package is seen on display at a Staples store in Manhasset, New York. Intuit has scrambled to make good with users of the popular software.

Intuit has been having an awful month.

The company made some unpopular changes to its tax return software this year, which has resulted in a customer backlash that has dropped 2014 TurboTax Deluxe software to a meager 2-star rating on Amazon. Intuit has scrambled to make good with users though, and in a final bid to win back unhappy customers, it's now offering a freebie — for some of us.

But what exactly has made everyone so upset, and how do you know if you qualify for the promotion?

Users Had to Pay for Access to Certain Forms

For users who filed their 2013 returns using TurboTax Deluxe software, schedule C, D, and E tax forms were included with the price. This year, however, Intuit removed these forms for 2014 returns using Deluxe, placing them in the more expensive TurboTax Premier or TurboTax Home & Business software tiers.

This change doesn't negatively affect everyone, however. These attachments to the Form 1040 Tax Return are used to report income and expenses for self-employed individuals (Schedule C), to compute capital gains and losses (Schedule D), and to report income and expenses from rental property, trusts, or estates (Schedule E). If these don't apply to you, then you might not take issue with this year's software. However, customers who do need these forms were thus required to pay extra money to upgrade their software before filing, an unwelcome surprise for those who had used the Deluxe software successfully in the past.

Intuit's First Attempt to Make Amends Fails

Reeling from the bad publicity, Intuit responded last week, offering a $25 rebate to customers who were forced to upgrade. But this didn't calm the anger that many felt, particularly because the cost of upgrading for some customers was much greater than what was offered with the rebate.

For example, customers who needed the Schedule C tax forms had to upgrade to the Home & Business version and may have paid up to an additional $40. Intuit did temporarily cut the prices on these products, allowing some users to make money from the rebate, but this didn't last; users upgrading today would lose out by $5 after the rebate if upgrading to Premier, or $10 if upgrading to Home & Business. Many were also unhappy because claiming the rebate required customers to complete their taxes and e-file before applying.

Competitor H&R Block took advantage of the situation and offered its own deluxe software — including the missing forms — for free to disgruntled TurboTax customers who email SwitchToBlock@hrblock.com with their name, address, phone number, operating system, and proof of purchase for TurboTax Deluxe or Basic for 2014, such as a photo of a receipt for the software. (While there haven't been any major changes to TurboTax Basic, H&R seems to be including that tier in its offer.)

Intuit Tries Again, Announces Free Upgrades for 2013 Filers

The continuing negative response from customers — and the aggressive move by a competitor — has spurred Intuit to greater action. The company has now announced that customers will also be allowed to upgrade from within TurboTax Deluxe for free, allowing them access to the removed forms.

This isn't available yet, but Intuit CEO Brad Smith said in a YouTube video that the company is moving quickly and will notify customers as soon as the change is live. (The $25 rebate is still available until April 20 for customers who have already upgraded.) He further stated that next year's Deluxe software will include the absent forms.

But not everyone is eligible for these promotions. Both the free upgrade and the rebate from Intuit are only available to existing TurboTax customers who used TurboTax Deluxe to file their 2013 tax returns. New (but unhappy) TurboTax customers are thus better off turning to H&R Block's freebie offer.

Readers, how do you file your taxes? If you're an irritated TurboTax customer, are you planning to switch to a competitor product, or have Intuit's efforts convinced you to stay? Sound off in the comments below!

Erin Coduti is a writer for Dealnews.com, where this article first appeared. 

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